Paper: How Brexit would put EU development aid in turmoil

gbeu-flagAlthough very few facts have gone unchallenged in a rather untypical campaign, it is very likely that a United Kingdom vote on 23 June to leave the EU would negatively affect its place and influence in the world. The Brexit camp has been strategically quiet on concrete post-Brexit scenarios, while the Remain camp has warned against equally unspecific scenarios. As one of such perhaps less prominent post-Brexit scenarios, this paper looks into the implications for development budgets, strategic programming and policy-making of the EU and of the UK.

Brexiteers have not provided a clear position on the UK’s development policy after an exit from the EU. The UK’s contribution to EU development policy will likely be reallocated in two ways: First, the UK will increase its contributions to the World Bank and United Nations (UN) organisations. Second, the UK will increase its bilateral aid programmes, which risks rejuvenating postcolonial ties in the UK’s spending pattern: Brexit is also a step back in Europe’s collective emancipation from its colonial past.

The general rhetoric on national sovereignty of the pro-Brexit camp suggests that bilateralism with a focus on former colonies – not multilateral aid disbursement – will be the dominant paradigm in a post-Brexit UK. Above all, Brexit will induce a great deal of uncertainty into a policy field already facing the challenge of transforming itself to align to a new role under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Download the paper here: Brexit_EU_Development_Policy_Ueli_Staeger